Exploring American Monsters: Oregon

Oregon is nestled in the northwest corner of the United States between California and Washington. The state (the ninth largest) has 363 miles of Pacific coastline, the Cascade mountain range, forests, high desert, and beautiful expanses of water, from the Columbia River, to Crater Lake (with an average depth of 1,148 feet), to the 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls. Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, reaching 11,249 feet. Famous people from Oregon include “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, actor and greatest living man Bruce Campbell, director David Fincher, inventor of the Erector Set Alfred Carlton Gilbert, The voice of Gumby and Tony the Tiger Dallas McKennon, and “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk. Then there are the sea monsters, and if Groening had drawn them they would all have overbites.

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The surface of Wallowa Lake is 4,372 feet above sea level in the Wallowa Mountains. The lake, carved during the Ice Age when glaciers pushed their way across North America, may be home to a giant serpent. Local American Indians have a legend about a horned lake monster anywhere from ten to one hundred feet long.

According to an article in an 1885 edition of The Wallowa County Chieftain, a prospector paddling across the river saw a creature with a long neck emerge from the water about fifty yards away from his boat. The monster had an enormous flat head that rested on a ten-foot-long neck. The thing lowed like a cow, and disappeared beneath the water.

Although sightings of something strange in Wallowa Lake continue, they are few and far between.

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Colossal Claude

A water monster with a few more sightings in Oregon is Colossal Claude. Encounters with a sea serpent described as anywhere from fifteen to forty feet long frolicking in the waters of the mouth of the Columbia River, and in the adjacent ocean, have been reported since the 1930s.

The first report was in 1934 when crewmembers of the Columbia River lightship claimed to have seen a forty-foot-long creature with a horse-like head in the ocean near its namesake river. They watched it with binoculars. According to an article in The Salem News, L.A. Larson, a mate on the Columbia River, described it as, “About 40 feet long. It had a neck some eight feet long, a big round body, a mean looking tail and an evil, snaky look to its head.”

The creature has been spotted at least three times in the waters near Lincoln City. The best incident is when thirty people spotted a serpent with a “slender neck, a snake-like head, and a fan-shaped tail,” The Salem News reported.

A video shot by the Shell Oil Company off the coast of Oregon in 1963 showed a fifteen-foot long serpent encrusted with barnacles swimming with a spiral motion. Although people dubbed it Martin the Monster, it sure looked like Claude.

Claude has been reported in and out of the Columbia River to this day.

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Bigfoot

This wouldn’t be about monsters of the Pacific Northwest without Bigfoot. According to a 2015 article in The Oregonian newspaper, in 1972, sightings were so common around Portland, Oregon; the city had a Bigfoot hotline for reports. Unfortunately, that telephone number no longer works.

Sightings of the giant hairy hominid in Oregon date back to pre-settler times, and are too numerous to detail. There are 1,442 encounter reports on the Oregon Bigfoot website alone. However, here is the story of the one Bigfoot – the Chetco Monster.

For years prior to 1904, prospectors near Myrtle Point, Oregon, had reported encountering a wild man in the woods, a wild man that terrified them. The first encounter involved two men in a cabin who heard something large walking outside. When they looked, they saw manlike, but too big to be a man. They dashed back inside. The wild man grabbed onto the cabin, and shook the building while screaming, keeping the men huddled in fear until it stopped. One of the men braved opening the door to find a huge, hairy, man-like monster walking away, and took a shot at it with his rifle. In his terror, he missed.

Days later at a nearby cabin, the events repeated themselves, except the inhabitants were ready for it. They all took their guns, and ran outside, only to be bombarded by rocks they estimated as being about four pounds each. The monster disappeared into the forest.

People continued to see the Chetco Monster for years, a seven-foot-tall hairy man with large feet and hands.

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Dogman

Although not as plentiful as Bigfoot encounters, there have been a growing number of dogman sightings in Oregon.

People have reported seeing a dogman across the country, especially in Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The reports vary from place-to-place. In those states, as well as Arizona, the dogman appears to be a large, wolf-like dog that walks on two legs, and is often seen eating road kill. In Missouri, the beast typically walks on four legs, but when seen by humans it raises to two, and slowly – confidently – walks away. In Illinois, the dogman has been reported to look like a large dog with human hands. However sightings in Oregon report a seven-foot-tall hairy canine biped with a human-like face.

Here is one encounter from a 2009 blog post.

A couple driving near Eugene, Oregon, saw a large animal running toward the road on all fours. When it reached the road, the beast shot in front of the vehicle. It was huge, about seven feet long, but what made this creature terrifying were not its size, but its human-like torso, and its human face. It shot across the road, and disappeared into a mass of buildings. When they stopped to check, they couldn’t find one footprint.

The lack of footprints associated with these Oregon dogmen is fascinating to say the least.

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There are also reports of this mythical sea beast in Oregon, but there are more from Washington. We’ll just tuck Caddy away for later.

Up next: Pennsylvania.